This proud photo shows architect Kara Hill posing with her spanking-new creation, the Valley Performing Arts Center, which opened Saturday January 29, 2010, in the northern reaches of Los Angeles’s 500-square-mile radius. The Center sits on the south-east corner of the campus of California State University, Northridge in the San Fernando Valley.
The structure, instantaneously christened with the acronym VPAC, forms a big square-ish cake box with softened edges. It glowed gold upon approach Saturday evening, its strange, serene energy resembling a freshly arrived spaceship. Occupying farm land where an orange grove once released its nightly perfume, VPAC hosted a lovingly produced gala showcase spanning ballet to opera, jazz to musical theater, and closing with a humble nod to Shakespeare.
Far from a Valley girl (not that being a V.g. is a bad thing), Hill received her early education in Rome, France, and Egypt. She earned her undergraduate degree from Barnard College, and a PhD in architectural history, theory and criticism at MIT. She’s taught art and architecture at MIT, Harvard, and University of Minnesota. Hill was lead architect for Minneapolis-based Hammel, Green, and Abrahamson when the firm won the bid for the VPAC project. When she left the firm, she remained lead architect for the LEED-certified (green) building.
Ms. Hill collaborated successfully with two other accomplished women over the $125 million project’s ten-year development: Jolene Koester, President of California State University, Northridge, who has been the project’s passionate advocate and driver, as well as the gifted landscape architect, Pamela Burton.
Photo credit: Lee Choo